Sunday, December 28, 2014

Christmas Is Coming to an End

Christmas is Coming to an End
        Like every year, no matter where you are, Christmas comes and goes so quickly. This year was no exception. We found an optic tree for 10 cedis, about $3.00, at Shoprite, one of the grocery stores.

         Our nativity was hand carved by a man named Wisdom. It is made from a wood native to Ghana. It is quite light and varies in colors from light to dark.

         We enjoyed activities with some of the Elders and Sisters in our mission in two different zones, Medina and Tema.
Typical Soccer Field. Hard to believe how long they played in the heat.

One of the Sisters, she played the entire time barefooted.

Sister Heid on the right.

What can you learn on your mission? Juggling in pairs.

How to be best buds and keep juggling.

If you are a New Zealand Maori let others help you express yourself.
No one thinks anything about wearing the same dress. It is actually a compliment.

       Christmas Eve Day
        We went to the Movenpick Hotel which was decorated so nicely to get a picture in front of their gorgeous tree and just enjoy the thoughts of being together for this Christmas so far away.
           We joined the other senior couples for dinner and a white elephant gift exchange.
Sister Watson and her husband serve as Family History Missionaries. She chose our white optic tree. Another Shoprite special. She was delighted.

Sister Martins is from Nigeria and serves in the Temple. She got a plastic snake. Not her cup of tea.
Brother Slater took the snake off her hands and she chose again. What a good sport, a new tie.
Third time's the charm. She got our blinking Rudolf and famously danced while we sang.  
Sister Terry (Literacy) and Sister Martins, Elder Wilde (Secretary to the Area President) laughing behind.

Christmas Day

        The day dawned with the same rooster and the same birds that like clock work wake us every morning at 5:30. No cool weather, no fireplace, definitely no snow to make even an Arizonaian feel like Christmas. However, the joy in knowing that on this day we celebrate the birth of our Savior still gives us that special feeling of joy. We have strong testimonies that He came to Earth as a humble babe, that His birth was the glorious gift from our Heavenly Father and that through the example of  His life we have someone to follow, someone to look to as an example and someone to lift us up. Because of His atonement and His death we have an advocate with our Heavenly Father and a Savior of the world. We are indeed blessed to have this knowledge.
        Again the senior couples, met this time at the Missionary Training Center for lunch with the young Elders and Sisters there. Currently there are 31 missionaries there. They are from Ghana, Togo, Nigeria, Madagascar and South Africa. All are black with the exception of one white Elder from Tennessee. He fit in perfectly. Some are learning French and some English and some already speak English so they are not "learning a language". The will serve in Togo or Coite de Voire, French speaking, or Nigeria, or South Africa, to name a few.
A family in awe of a battery operated reindeer. There are no parks in Ghana so the green grass at church is a big draw.

Some of the countries represented at the MTC.

MTC dining room.

Sisters Martins,Terry, Afful, Pack, Kirkham, Heid, & Wilde.

Our lunch companions here to learn French.

Eight Elders from Madagascar here to learn English and go to South Africa.

Elder Moss from Tennessee.

Sister Hill, the Mission Doctor's wife, trying to teach charades,

This Elder's name has 23 letters in it. Really.
        We are blessed to be here, to have been kept safe and healthy while we have driven these crazy roads, we have met wonderful new people, missionaries and Ghanaians. We look forward to the New Year to see what it has in store for us.


Monday, December 22, 2014

It Is Beginning to Look Like Christmas

It Is Looking Like Christmas 

        It is beginning to look like Christmas but in a strange kind of way. It is somewhat surprising how much Christmas music is played in the grocery stores and in the mall but no one knows any of the secular songs. The members know the traditional carols but none of the other ones. They also don't have any of the carols or the fun songs downloaded on their phones or computers. People always ask us how can we feel it's Christmas if it is warm in Arizona and their is no snow? It is even stranger here where there is absolutely no change in the weather from one day to the next.
        We have had a lot of Christmas activities and that has been wonderful so we are in no way feeling deprived. There was an area devotional on December first. There was an all African choir and also some of the area missionaries sang. There were readings and congregational hymns and then a big lunch for everyone. We had a potluck FHE on Monday the 8th and had songs and Christmas remembrances from several of the missionaries. This was held at the home of the temple president and his wife, President and Sister Afful.
        Friday the 12th was the last day for the SRC to hold classes for the year so we had caroling with the volunteers that work at the center. This is a foreign idea to them but they enjoyed it and really got into the spirit of the day. Then we had a short talent show and another catered lunch. Sunday the 14th we met at President and Sister Curtis' for a Christmas sing-a-long and treats and then there were many of us that stayed to watch Meet the Mormons. There will be a Christmas Eve party with a white elephant exchange of gifts. Then there will be lunch and gifts for the young missionaries at the MTC on Christmas Day and games for New Years' Eve. We have never had so many things to participate in during the holidays. We feel blessed.
        There is an effort to have a celebration of Christmas here in Accra with the stores and even some lights on some buildings and even on the Flagstaff House, the presidential palace but out of the city there really is nothing. In church Sunday before last they asked me about my traditions and could not understand the reasons behind a Christmas tree so for the past two Sundays I have gotten to share the religious meanings behind the Christmas traditions that we take for granted. There is no sign of anything Christmas in the little town of Suhum were we go to church and most people there will do nothing special even though this is a relatively Christian nation. They just have no traditions.
        We found a $3.00 fiber optic Christmas tree on a sale table at the grocery store, we have a string of lights and our African Nativity and two embroidered Chinese Christmas pillows so we are ready. We look fairly festive.

$40.00 Poinsettias available for sale

President Dube at the Area Christmas Devolitional

Area luncheon. Decorating is done a lot with fabric

 We found a $3.00 fiber optic Christmas tree on a sale table at the grocery store, we have a string of lights and our African Nativity and two embroidered Chinese Christmas pillows so we are ready. We look fairly festive.
Santa at Mamma Mia's Pizza
At the Movenpick Hotel

Bake Shop at the Movenpick

Elder Smith a fabulous pianist played for our caroling

West Africa Area President Curtis

Our Suhum Branch 1st Counselor ready for Christmas

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

        We were out of the United States for this Thanksgiving but we were not without the spirit of the holiday. It was wonderful day, full of very different experiences for a “holiday”. We arrived at the office at 8:00 A.M. and got a call to come to a meeting with Elder Koranteng at 8:30. That was a little more than an hour at which time our duties were more explained to us. We have been training stakes and districts in their responsibilities to set up a self-reliance program for themselves. There will no longer be a specific center where people will need to travel to take classes to help them find jobs or get help for their businesses. We will become field advisors and will be traveling more.
        While we were at this meeting I received a call from President Heid that he and Sister Heid would be picking me up to show me where we will be moving. He wants to give our apartment to the new couple that has come so that they can be closer to the mission home. We are saddened to have to leave. The biggest is the location. We are a mile from the Temple and can get there is five minutes. The new apartment is only eleven minutes away if there were no traffic but because of the traffic in Accra it will more than likely take us 45 minutes to an hour to go 5.1 kilometers. Depressing! We will be up three flights of stairs. Our new exercise program will be the three flights every day. They have a gym that has a tread mill and an exercise bike in a room that would not hold two tread mills because it is so small
        Barry went with the Africa Enterprise Group to check out a couple of business in the Macola Market out near Jamestown. There were more stalls than you can imagine. Each is about the size of a walk-in closet. He chatted with two women who have bag shops and discussed how they have started their businesses and what they might need help with in the future. One of the women speaks English but does not read or write. She does know her numbers and could tell Barry how much change to give him if he were to buy a bag for 30 cedis and had to give change for a fifty cedi bill. She says she has all of her books in her head.

Dorthy's Bags

Colorful Ghanaian ones too

President and Sister Hill
        At 2:00 we met at President and Sister Hill’s house for Thanksgiving dinner. There were between 35 and 40 couples in attendance. There were two 10lb turkeys that Sister Curtis had found and every possible side dish. Women here are very creative. We had several kinds of sweet potatoes, lots of mashed potatoes, plenty of vegetables and fruit, lots of dressing and gravy, salads and other fixings. No one lacked enough to eat, yes, the turkey portion was small but it was a taste of home.  Desserts are the hardest to replicate but here too there were many choices.
With the Stokers

Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Volta River

The Volta Region

         The Volta River is primarily in Ghana. It is 994 miles long and has three main tributaries; the Black, White and Red. It drains into the Atlantic Ocean at the Gulf of Guinea. Volta is the Portuguese word for twist or turn. This was the farthest point where Portuguese gold traders would go. Lake Volta is the largest reservoir in the world, extending some 250 miles to the north. It may just recently have  been eclipsed by the reservoir that was formed in China when the new dam was built there.  It is crossed by the Adome Bridge but the bridge is currently out and being repaired and is expected to take another two years to be finished.  

        When we drove to Ho we were able to cross the dam that backs up the river to the south and forms the southern boundary of the lake.  You are not supposed to take any pictures of anything that the Ghanaian government controls. We did take some through the bobbed wire. When we left Ho we went out the other side of the lake on a car ferry. No pictures  there either.

        After crossing on the ferry we drove to the Royal Senchi Resort and took a boat ride on the Volta River. We drove to see the ferry we had travel across on then we drove north to the Adome Bridge that you can’t cross and saw the sights in between. This is a world class resort on the river. Some very nice homes, beach front property but the signs at the hotel tell you not to swim in the river. Next to the hotel is a “water park”. Also along the river you see tilapia farms, small villages with their fishing boats tied up along side the banks and several kinds of birds because there is a bird sanctuary on an island in the middle of the river. There were some black ones with wonderful red wings.  Something worth seeing but flying much to quickly to take a picture.

        After our river excursion we had a wonderful buffet at the hotel. Expensive for sure for Ghana at about $25.00.  We get some very good meals for $12-$15.